Don’t assume. Don’t place blame too quickly. Don’t lose sight of the end goals for our nation. And, mostly, don’t overreact to the Tragedy in Tucson.
Don’t assume. Don’t place blame too quickly. Don’t lose sight of the end goals for our nation. And, mostly, don’t overreact to the Tragedy in Tucson. I know that it’s going to be easy to fall into the trap, but I’m asking that you avoid the pitfall. With the commentary coming from both politicians and pundits alike ranging from Illinois’ senior U.S. Sen. Dick Durbin to WVON alum Roland S. Martin, it’s going to be a natural move to make: Sarah Palin used the word “target” and put up a map with targets on particular congressional districts, including Arizona’s 8th, represented by shooting victim U.S. Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Sharon Angle spoke of “Second Amendment remedies.” Arizona minutemen line the border in order to protect the state against illegal immigration threats. Yes, there are some questionable conservative tactics and comments out there – no question. However, just as we were wise to do during the Fort Hood attacks of 2009 – and, not to mention, the terror attacks of September 11 – the goal for us is clear: We must not overreact. There will be plenty of time to assess blame on partisan politics (if there is any, considering that the shooter, Jared Lee Loughner, has yet to profess a political philosophy that aligns him with either extreme in today’s political arena). There will be time to reevaluate our willingness to use extreme terms (e.g., “target”, “bomb”, “attack”) for political discourse. There will be opportunities to figure out where we might have gone wrong in all of this, if there was anything that we collectively could have done differently. However, going overboard with the finger-pointing at this point in time is wrong. The emotionally-charged missteps in logic are just the societal fodder needed to feed the flames of hate and mistrust between Americans. Just as we did before when regarding Islamic extremism in 2001 and 2009, we must do again: take a breath, wait, and assess once more of the facts come in. What much of the media and other institutions in news and politics – and, yes, that includes the left-leaning media and the public relation machine coming from the Democrats – does not understand is that by assigning blame through the same disdain and mistrust of conservatives that has been going on since the Bush Administration, much of Americans is not actually calling for a ramp-down of the inflammatory rhetoric and tension of our times; rather, they are ratcheting it up by creating villains for the victims and others to direct their pain towards. How is this healthy? Well, in a phrase: it’s not. Nor is it beneficial to our republic as we are in the process of making some difficult choices during these difficult times. Before we get into deep discussions about our need to limit more Americans to guns (as if less legal guns will automatically lead to less tragedies – ask Chicagoans about that over the past few decades), the need for more toned-down rhetoric from the right (without looking at the anti-Bush, anti-right vitriol that takes the position that American conservatism is actually un-American), and the need for more population monitoring to keep track of at-risk loners (at the risk of keeping stringent tabs on the rest of us unnecessary), we have to again ask ourselves this question: are we willing to sacrifice what makes America great and unique in the world because of the acts of a few or, in this instance, the insanity of a loner? Regardless of how much we want to admit it, the United States has always been a place where heated debate went haywire at times (anyone remember the Hamilton-Burr duel between a former Secretary of the Treasury and a sitting Vice President). Not that we must relive the worst of our past, but we must be mindful that we still exist as a nation because we have overcome our lowest points, often times through embracing the power within our system of political and societal discourse while rejecting the instances where the tenets of the system is dysfunctionally applied. Therefore, we must remain mindful that, indeed, both sides of the political aisle – both in our distant past and during our recent past – have been responsible for inciting hatred and dehumanizing rhetoric and passing it off as “liberating leadership in our troubled times” in an era where the last 2 presidents have been characterized as Hitler-esque and the past 3 presidents have been accused of Big Brother-type tactics.á As much as we want to forget it, America is truly the melting pot, so as long as the bitter herbs of demonization – be it from the right or the left – continue to be dropped into the mix with a pinch of righteousness, we will never advance past this stagnating point of self-aggrandizing, “justifiable” position-taking which, in and of itself, includes finger-pointing, even when the all of the facts have yet to come in. It should not have taken 9/11 for us to act and think as unified Americans, just as Saturday’s shooting should not have needed to occur before we had a true heart-to-heart talk about the verbal violence occurring on both sides. Even if Loughner proves to be nothing more than a violent loner without rhyme nor reason to his madness, it is about time to bring some more reason to our political madness – all while holding onto what makes us passionate and engaged before we drop more toxicity into our national stew to create a poison that sickens us past the point of no return. It’s more than about blame or reactionary statics. It’s about appropriate action and reaction, 360-degree accountability and awareness. And in order to do that, we cannot act correctly without holding onto one main principle. Don’t overreact. Lenny McAllister is a syndicated political commentator and the host of “Launching Chicago with Lenny McAllister” on 1690-AM WVON (www.wvon.com) andá he will be on BET’s “Our World with Black Enterprise” this weekend.á He is the author of the upcoming edition of the book, “The Obama Era, Part I (2008-2010): Diary of a Mad Black PYC (Proud Young Conservative).” Follow him at http://www.twitter.com/lennyhhrá and on Facebook at http://www.tinyurl.com/lennyfacebook .